June 15, 2016

Facebook triumphs over G+

A certain resinous smarminess coated Vic Gundotra, like a thin layer of annoying motor oil on a socket wrench, never letting you get a real grip on it. And toolish he was, stumping loudly for Google Plus in countless media interviews and at Google-sponsored events.

What was most insulting to a Facebooker was his studiously avoiding mentioning the social-media behemoth in public statements, as if the very raison d'être for his now towering presence at Google didn't even exist. Like some Orwellian copywriter, engineering language and perception to suit a fictional reality, Google would rarely mention the Facebook elephant in the room in any public statement, insulting any viewer by suggesting they had practically invented the notion of Internet-mediated social interaction.

"Networks are for networking," intoned Gundotra, any reference to Facebook always oblique and dismissive. "Circles are for the right people," he continued, referring to Google Circles, a way of organizing social contacts, shamelessly copied from Facebook's long-ignored Lists feature.

-- from Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, by Antonio García Martínez.

May 30, 2016

Wearing personal expression on your sleave

"We are moving into an era where personal expression is going to trump the desire to create a corporate identity, It's a huge power shift."

-- Professor Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University and founder of the Fashion Law Institute.

May 28, 2016

Pigeonholing hurts

According to Laszlo Bock, who runs human resources at Google, pigeonholing workers into categories is nothing new, and it's rarely helpful in running a workplace.

May 22, 2016

An aesthetic, antifashion as fashion

As an aesthetic, antifashion as fashion is annoying and alienating, bleats GINIA BELLAFANTE, the self appointed spokesperson for people who are over 40, not particularly slender or less prestigiously schooled.

Everybody else can attest when visiting a Warby Parker outlet that there is both a democracy in a relatively low price, and also a sense of exclusion is woven into the gestalt.

Are you really smart enough to be shopping at Warby Parker? Have you read even a fraction of the books displayed?

May 15, 2016

Facebook, from aggregator to news editor

Facebook doesn't seem to recognize its own power, and doesn't think of itself as a news organization with a well-developed sense of institutional ethics and responsibility, or even a potential for bias. Neither does its audience, which might believe that Facebook is immune to bias because it is run by computers.

That myth should die. It's true that beyond the Trending box, most of the stories Facebook presents to you are selected by its algorithms, but those algorithms are as infused with bias as any other human editorial decision.

"Algorithms equal editors," said Robyn Caplan, a research analyst at Data & Society, a research group that studies digital communications systems. "With Facebook, humans are never not involved. Humans are in every step of the process -- in terms of what we're clicking on, who's shifting the algorithms behind the scenes, what kind of user testing is being done, and the initial training data provided by humans."

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